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How to Apply for a China Visa — a Step-by-Step Guide

apply for China visa

Planning to visit China, but don’t know how to apply for a China visa? We're breaking it down for you with our step by step guide, follow the steps and get your China visa efficiently.

Step 1. Find out if you need a visa.

The first thing is to check whether you need a visa or not. You usually need to apply for a Chinese visa unless you meet one of China's visa-free policies.

72- and 144-hour visa-free transit offer great convenience if you have a layover in China.

Step 2. Find out which visa you need.

There are many types of China visa. Choose a visa type that applies to your situation. If you are planning to go on a vacation in China, apply for a Tourist Visa (L Visa).

Step 3. Prepare the required documents.

The following list of documents are required for any China visa application:

  • A valid passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months when you enter China.
  • A complete visa application form (The visa application form can be downloaded from the Chinese embassy website or from our website. You complete it by computer, print and sign it. In some countries such as UK you should complete an online form. See details on https://www.visafo rchina.org. On the form, you might find an item “Serial number of invitation letter of the authorized organization”, you may skip this item if you don’t have an invitation letter, or the invitation letter is not of this type.)
  • A recent passport-type photograph (head and shoulders only, front view, with a white background, approximately 48mmx33mm)
a valid passport is needed to apply for a china visa

Along with the aforementioned generally required documents, several additional documents are required depending upon the type of China visa applied for.

For instance, if you are applying for a tourist L visa, you need to prepare an air ticket booking record (round trip) and proof of a hotel reservation OR an invitation letter.

An invitation letter can replace the air ticket and hotel booking if you are planning to stay with friends or family who live in China and can’t provide the hotel confirmation, or if your travel is being organized by a travel agency (or other duly authorized organization) in China.

Step 4. Submit the application.

You may submit the application to the Visa Office at Chinese embassies or consulates, or China Visa Application Service Centers (also called CVASC) if they are operating in your country.

Starting from 2018, visa applicants from more and more countries (including the U.S., the UK, and Canada) have to make their visa application in person and have their fingerprints collected.

The regular service processing time is 4 days, and the rushed service takes1 day. The latter is only available in extreme emergencies pending a consular officer’s approval.

For applicants holding a U.S. passport, we recommend VisaHQ, who provides a fast, efficient service at a very competitive price.

Step 5. Pay the fee and collect your visa.

China Visa

Go to the place where you apply for China visa, pay the fee and collect your visa.

The fees vary enormously depending on your nationality and number of entries. Here we listed China visa price for some countries.

Nationality Number of Entries Regular Application
US Citizens Single Entry 
Double Entries 
Multiple Entries for 6 Months 
Multiple Entries for 1 Year & above
USD 140
UK Citizens EUR 151
Canada Citizens CAD 100
Australian Citizens AUD 60-180

The fees shown in the table are only for the cost of visa. If you apply through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center, the service fee and tax are required.

When to Apply for a Visa

It is important to get your visa early, but not too early because it is only valid for 90/180 days for single/double-entry visas from the issue date.

It is usually recommended that you apply for the visa one or two months before the intended travel.

Apply for Special Permits, If Necessary.

If you are planning on traveling to the Tibet Autonomous Region, you will need to get a special permit from a Chinese travel agency.

Apply for China Visa in Hong Kong

If you are already in Hong Kong and want to visit mainland China, it is possible to get a China visa in Hong Kong. Read our step-by-step guide.

Tailor-Making a China Tour

Visit the Great Wall of China

China Highlights is your China tour tailor-making expert. See the recommended tours below for inspiration:

As an alternative to customizing the recommended tours linked above to meet your individual requirements, we can help you tailor-make a tour according to your interests and requirements.

Or check out our ideas and suggestion on How to Plan Your China Tour in 2020.